Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to open new Dinosaur visitor center on Sept. 28
Contact: Dan Johnson, (435) 781-7702
DINOSAUR, CO - Dinosaur National Monument's renowned fossil quarry will reopen to the public early next month, one week after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dedicates the park's new Quarry Visitor Center nearby, Superintendent Mary Risser announced.
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Secretary Salazar will be the keynote speaker at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new 7,595-square-foot visitor center. The public is invited to the 10 AM event, which formally unveils new exhibits explaining the monument and its features, an auditorium for programs and viewing of park films, a monument information desk and the park bookstore.
One week later, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, the new 10,500-square-foot Quarry Exhibit Hall will open to the public. The hall, built over the site of the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, provides close viewing of almost 1,500 dinosaur bones from the Jurassic Period, all exposed on the cliff face where they were deposited about 149 million years ago. The new exhibit hall will also feature information and displays about the Jurassic environment and its inhabitants.
"October 4 is the 96th anniversary of the creation of the original 80-acre Dinosaur National Monument," Risser said. "This will be the first time that the public will be able to see the dinosaur fossils in more than five years. What an exciting way to mark Dinosaur's founder's day. The National Park Service and Uintah County invite the public to join us in this celebration."
Exhibits in the new visitor center, which now is located down the hill and separate from the fossil quarry, will introduce visitors to Dinosaur National Monument's natural resources, homesteading history, petroglyphs, geology, paleontology, and rivers. They are designed to stimulate the interest of visitors and encourage them to explore the 210,000-acre monument on their own. Interpretive and educational items also will be available for sale in the Intermountain Natural History Association's bookstore.
The ribbon cutting for the visitor center was scheduled one week earlier so that the public can see the new interpretive exhibits as soon as they are installed. "The grand opening of the fossil quarry hall is a week later - still the original opening date - because of the added complexity of that building's construction and additional time needed to install its exhibits and clean the fossil wall," Risser added.
Dinosaur's original Quarry Visitor Center was a combination visitor center and exhibit hall at the site of the fossil quarry. It was closed in 2006 because of structural damage caused by the unstable soils on which it was built in the 1950s. Attempts had been made to stabilize the building over the decades, but health and safety concerns led the Park Service to close it for repair and reconstruction.
After Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Park Service selected reconstruction of the exhibit hall and visitor center as a priority ARRA project. It was originally funded for $13.1 million. Risser said the 18-month project will be completed on schedule and under budget. Advanced Solutions Group of Kaysville, UT is the prime contractor, with Big-D Construction of Salt Lake City as primary sub-contractor. Construction began in March 2010.
More information about the Oct. 4 grand opening of the quarry site will be provided as it becomes available on the monument's grand opening webpage. For additional online updates, those interested in Dinosaur National Monument can follow the park on Facebook at and on Twitter.
Did You Know?
Paleontologist Earl Douglass first came to Utah looking for mammal fossils. He returned in 1909 and discovered an immense deposit of dinosaur bones, now protected at Dinosaur National Monument. Although made famous by dinosaurs, Douglass died preferring his beloved mammal fossils over dinosaurs.